Lucerne, Switzerland, May 12, 2016 – With two wins on the first day of pool play Irina Zobnina and Urte Andriukaityte moved up from lucky losers to potential pool winners in less than 24 hours at the FIVB Beach U21 Volleyball World Championships in Lucerne.
The two 19-year olds from Lithuania impressed most on Thursday with a 2-1 (10-21, 21-17, 18-16) win over Canadian twins Megan and Nicole McNamara, silver medallists at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
“I think nobody was expecting us to win this morning”, Zobnina said. “So we wanted to prove them wrong, because nobody believed we could do it. Except for our coaches.”
The key in winning, after losing the first set to the Canadian twins, was “wanting to win” Zobnina said. Andriukaityte: “Enjoying the game and playing our best. Not seeing who’s in front of you, but just focus on your own game.”
Their second game in pool B, against Irene Gomez and Susan Alpizar Campos from Costa Rica, was a totally different match (21-8, 21-7). Their opponents were a lot younger, 16 and 17, and less experienced than the Canadians.
“It was just a matter of technique”, Andriukaityte said. “Our coach said to just focus on the serve, on the details of the game. Every element, the serving, the receiving. But because it’s a less strong country we didn’t think we had already won before the game started. We just came and did our job.”
“We don’t want to put too much weight on these matches though, because it’s only pool games”, the blocker continued. “But we were given a second chance when we became lucky losers, so we want to grab the opportunity and just go forward.”
On Friday Vanuatu awaits in their final pool match, with the pool title at stake. Andriukaityte: “We don’t want to look too far ahead. We’ll walk onto the court and forget all the previous victories. And just focus on our game.”
Andriukaityte finished 9th at the 2014 U19 in Porto with Simona Vaiciukynaite, but for Zobnina Lucerne is her first FIVB age-group event.
The nerves are already gone, said Andriukaityte. “There’s no point. Because we don’t have anything to lose. Nobody is expecting us to win gold or anything. We just want to stay in the tournament as long as possible, because we like it here.”
“We were really surprised by the whole organization here in Switzerland. Everything is just going perfect. Only the weather is a small problem, but we’re used to that. It rains a lot in Lithuania.”